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Retired nurse and veteran returns to front lines in COVID-19 battle

April 08, 2020


Pete Guzman

Pete Guzman

Two years ago, Pete Guzman retired from his duties as an Emergency Department nurse at WellSpan York Hospital. With his wife, two grown children and three grandkids, he always knew he’d stay busy in retirement – working on cars, helping around the house, or watching grandkids. But two years later, Guzman can be found where he believes he is now needed most of all – right back with his colleagues working in the emergency department.

"When things like this happen, if I can be a part of the solution, then I’m going to be there," he said.

Guzman has a rich history of serving his country – in South America, in southeast Asia, and most recently in Iraq, following 9/11. This time he’s serving his community in a battle against an invisible enemy: COVID-19.

"I'm an American doing what needs to be done for his country and his friends. I’m very patriotic. After 9/11, I was there. Coronavirus comes to our county – my friends need help at WellSpan York Hospital. I'm there," he said.

At 67 years old, Guzman wants to be on the frontlines of this battle. He believes his years of experience put him in position to do the most good.

Over 150 retired nurses, physicians and advanced practice clinicians have expressed interest in helping during WellSpan’s COVID-19 response. In Guzman’s case, he called up WellSpan to offer his services.

WellSpan knows it will need more clinical care staff to treat the expected influx of patients and have already begun to redeploy physicians, nurses and staff to our hospitals with the greatest needs. This is all possible because of the proactive steps taken to intentionally reduce patient volumes in other service areas in anticipation of this need.

Additionally, WellSpan is reaching out to non-clinical team members to understand where there may be pockets of staff who have previous medical experience to assist in providing care, if needed.

As for Guzman, it’s being part of that team-effort that is the most rewarding part of being a nurse.

"You learn to trust the people that you work with," he said. "You evaluate what needs to be done, and then you do the job. It's as simple as that."

"As a soldier who served our country in combat, Pete is already a hero to our nation," said Sandy Patchel, assistant nurse manager for WellSpan York Hospital's Emergency Department. "He continues to be a hero to his coworkers, patients and the community."

“No one was surprised that he came out of retirement to help his ED family on the front lines as we fight this dangerous virus,” she added.

But Guzman wants everyone to know it’s not just his dedication, but of everyone who works tirelessly to provide care to those in need.

“Whatever happens tomorrow, we’ll be there to take care of the situation,” he said. “My motto is K-T-F. Keep the Faith.”

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